Can you eventually hold the bitcoins in your hand, like real cash dollars or euros or something? If so, how?

I've gone through all the service previews and introduction videos (actually, a video), and didn't see anything about this particular point.

I don't have a credit card, and I'm in a country where banking services aren't so profound and people don't use credit cards (Libya). Does a Bitcoin account rely on having a credit card, and will the coins you gather be added to your bank account?

  • 9
    I'm not sure exactly what you are looking for. Do you want to convert bitcoins into dollars/euros or do you want to be able to use bitcoins "as cash"?
    – D.H.
    Commented Feb 4, 2012 at 8:58
  • 1
    I think the question goes something like: I am standing on my front porch and have one hundred US dollars; I want to send 100 US dollars to someone else. How do I get 100 dollars worth of bitcoins to send?
    – user12374
    Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 14:44

11 Answers 11


Bitcoins are a purely electronic currency. If you want to sell them in exchange for dollars or euros, you can do that. But as Bitcoins, they exist purely electronically. There are physical Bitcoins but basically, they're just the key to an electronic account printed in some form.

I think you're missing the concept that Bitcoins act like a currency or commodity. You can have 10 Bitcoins just like you can have 10 ounces of gold. The key difference is that the Bitcoins exist electronically rather than phyiscally. If you have Bitcoins and want dollars, you have to find someone who has dollars and wants Bitcoins, then you exchange with them.

Bitcoins are not a payment or fund transfer system for national currencies like PayPal and Western Union are. Bitrcoins are a currency that has an efficient built-in transfer system.


Bitcoin doesn't need a bank account - your bitcoin wallet is your bank account, and you don't need any permission or paperwork to start using bitcoin.

For example, using localbitcoins.com to change cash to bitcoins and vice versa, you don't need any kind of bank account at all.

  • I really don't like using analogies sometimes. They are just confusing at times. This is one of those times.
    – Lodewijk
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 21:11

What you are looking for is likely a person-to-person exchange where you provide bitcoins and in exchange you get EURO currency.

While there is some of this happening in various places, it is not found everywhere. There are no buyers or sellers listing Libya, ...yet:

But where there's a will there's a way.

In the meantime, here's a list of various methods:


If you mean physical bitcoins you can carry, there is: https://www.casascius.com/ (Beware, this is not safe anymore : http://codinginmysleep.com/casascius-physical-bitcoins-cracked-at-defcon/)

I didn't quite understand the other parts of your question. Bitcoin don't rely on having a credit card nor having a bank account. https://www.bitinstant.com/ allow you to fund your exchange account with just cash.


You don't need a credit card to use Bitcoin, and you don't need any account anywhere. Just download the open source software from http://www.bitcoin.org

Bitcoin was born out of discontentment with traditional (central) banking, monetary, credit and transaction systems. That's why there is no central institution or authority behind Bitcoin that can administer you. How much one bitcoin is worth is entirely decided by free market dynamics within the community. That's possible because the supply of bitcoins is held artificially scarce.

It's a currency from the people for the people. If you and your community want to build an economy upon it, you all can get some GPUs or FPGAs and start mining. It will be entirely up to initiatives in your community to build services that exchange to and from traditional (Libyan) currencies, to offer goods and services, or to manufacture physical coins similar to Casascius to put into circulation (although these are rather seen as a gimmick, it may be much more convenient to use mobile phone clients nowadays for meatspace trading). Even in US and Europe where it's most popular, Bitcoin is still in its infancy and this process is only just happening.

If you happen to find Bitcoin inadequate to build a local economy upon, because you can't mine enough or you'd have to invest too much to buy some, you may take a look at different concepts like Ripple et al. These concepts build upon trust relationships however, you'll lose some of the features like the global scope and the (relative) anonymity/pseudonymity that Bitcoin offers. Money is a tool to transfer value after all. There are currently no known tools or technologies that can solve all problems at once if you don't want a currency that is enforced by an authority.


Bitcoins have no central authority. There is no bank required. All Bitcoins are digital. You need only a computer (a PC, Smartphone, etc!) to use Bitcoins. There's no need to have physical coins or bills. That said there are some initiatives to offer physical coins for example https://www.casascius.com/.

Take a look at http://www.weusecoins.com/ and http://lovebitcoins.org/.

( You could print the secret information that you can use your Bitcoin with, but it is not quite the same as cash. You could even get bank notes (redeemable Bitcoin "vouchers") from a trusted party. That is pretty much what cash is. You would also take a lot of unnecessary risk, which could give you the authentic cash experience. )


Yes, you can hold a "physical bitcoin" in your hand. You can trade it from person to person, and eventually turn it back into a digital coin if you wish.

However, most often you will be only dealing in digital bitcoins. You don't need a bank account or a credit card to use those. They are stored in a so called "block chain" - a ledger of all transactions on bitcoins. In order to spend them, you need your Bitcoin address and its private key - a really big random number. You can store it as a QR code, a file on a computer or anything, but you do need some special program to use those.


If you are looking for an anonymous method of converting Bitcoins to cash, you should look at www.bitcoin-brokers.org because they will buy your Bitcoins from you and send you cash via Moneygram. They will even send you your payment without you needing to show any ID. They do this by attaching a special “question and answer” to the payment. Walk into any Moneygram with this special Q&A, along with the transaction number, and moneygram will release the payment to you without you ever needing to show any ID whatsoever. Completely anonymous way of converting your Bitcoins to cash.


Many companies accepting BTC for products / services can be found here http://coinmap.org, though there is still a shortage of places to turn BTC into hard cash easily. There's Coinbase tied in with US banks, wires and withdrawals have fees but much faster to use than MtGox. That leaves localbitcoins and the far more suspect http://bcchanger.com/ (beware new users!!). There are Robocoin ATMs now in general circulation but for traders, fees can be a problem. If you can stick with BTC you'll do fine, but converting to cash is slow and costly. One option is to circulate through arbitrage and keep trading until 'enough' margin is available to dump a stack of coins in the market by discounting. If you have BTC to sell and the current rate on localbitcoins is $997 and you post at $970, you'll sell quickly. The more we use and develop BTC, the better for us all. The value is increasing rapidly in the BTC market. How else can we sell our BTC for cash? Lets keep working on this.

One final word, please be very informed before looking at Ripple. Here's some food for thought. Search ripple scam for comment 20306.


No, you can't hold a bitcoin in your hand. But you can hold a wallet though :-). Holding a wallet in your hand is holding a sheet of paper with a buch of numbers and letters which are the public and private key that refer to your wallet (Actually the private key is the only one needed, with it you can generate the public one). The accounting information is held in the blockchain spread arrown the world in thousands of computers. You don't need banks with bitcoin, your wallet is all you need and with your wallet you can buy in any store that accepts bitcoins. I don't know in lybia, but in my city there is at least one bar that accepts bitcoin, it is not easy to find stores accepting bitcoin out of the Internet, but I hope with time things will change. You can easily pay with your phone if you are in one of those bars/stores. But on the Internet there are many stores and the number is growing fast, where you can buy with your bitcoins.


The article Bitcoin Funded Debit Cards might be useful to you.

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